I used to think that the most important skill for a home based business was to learn all about money … income/loss/profit, business plans, and all the other paraphernalia of the money world.
I don’t think that any more at all. Now I know that the key to most business success stories is in the keyboard. Yep … your computer.
The world is a whole different place from when you and I grew up (unless you are a youngster!). I didn’t learn about computers until I was in my 30s, but ohmygoodness, I am soooo glad that I learned about them then.
A Web Presence Establishes Your Business As A “Real” Business
What makes this century so different from prior centuries? Can you imagine a business in the 20th century that did not have a phone with a message capability? Phones were essential to the world, no matter what the business was. The client wanted to know that they could reach the proprietor any time, even if only to leave a message. A few businesses may have flourished without a phone, but not many.
Well, in the 21st century, the computer is The Essential Element of the business world. If your business does nothing more than post one page with your location, hours, telephone number and email address, you still need a computer.
Yes, I know a few artists who do nicely without a website, or even a single web page. They are known by local galleries and get repeat business from former clients. And there are some gardeners who go door to door looking for business. But these cases are rare.
For you and me, a working knowledge of the computer is essential.
A Home Based Business Can Expand Its Clientele Exponentially With An Active Web Presence
Back in the old days, i.e. the 20th century, a local business could count on “X” number of potential clients, based on the demographics of the area. A business owner was expected to know those demographics and focus her business on those potential clients.
The existence of the internet has absolutely turned the concept of “client base” on its head. Consider a few of these:
- A pizza parlor develops a phenomenal sauce and saucy aprons, etc., that it markets via its website;
- A seamstress creates beautiful caftans that she sells around the world;
- A toy maker who lives in the middle of a corn field sells her toys via the internet to children in cities and towns all over the globe;
- A personal weight loss coach uses modern technology via her computer to deliver classes and CDs and books to her worldwide clientele.
The list goes on. There are very few businesses that do not benefit from having an internet presence.
Imagine that pizza parlor being able to increase its sales/profits by 10-15% through its internet sales. For the seamstress and toy maker, computer skills would be essential. And the personal weight loss coach could easily double her income with worldwide sales.
And that is why your computer skill is the single most important skill for your home based business.
Building Your Home Based Business With Your Computer Skills
While getting sales is indeed critical to most home business success, there are other reasons that you really need to get comfortable with computers.
Your suppliers are probably online. Even if there is a single sales person assigned to you, more and more companies rely on web based inventory and catalogs. Using online suppliers also gives you the flexibility of comparing costs from several different suppliers.
Handling client questions is often a lot easier online. A client can jot you a note any time of the day or night, and you can respond to the email when you get to “the office”.
Telephone service may be hugely cheaper online. Skype is known for its cheap national and international connections. I started using them years ago, and can’t begin to calculate how much money I have saved.
Getting The Skills You Need For Your Home Based Business
Not every home based entrepreneur needs to be a computer whiz to prosper in the new economy. There is a big range of what you might want to do. You might need
- A local business listing in the town directory;
- Telephone service;
- Conferencing capability (which is quite good, even for international connections);
- A modest website of 5-10 pages with information about you and your company;
- A whole website chock full of information;
- A website that sells dozens or hundreds of products, accepts credit cards and tracks clients.
Figure out what you will need for your home based business. Then figure out how to learn what you need to learn.
- Hire a friend to teach you;
- Hire a computer person to teach you;
- Hire a computer person to do some of the more sophisticated work;
- Take a course or two at a local night school or extension program;
- Check out Udemy. I’ve used them several times, and they seem quite good. I especially liked the course on learning WordPress (this site is a WordPress site, and I couldn’t have done it without them);
- Check your local bookstore for solid teaching books.
Of these all, the first one is the last choice. Most people are not good teachers, and you will want a good teacher to get started in the right direction. The cheapest way is probably Udemy, and that is a good choice. If you really prefer printed material, then the bookstore is your first choice.
The point is that you do have choices for how to learn what you need to know. There are lots of ways to learn how to build a website, or how to set up email. Your new home based business will thank you a million times for taking the time now to learn it right, now, before you open the business.
Your Top Skill For A Home Based Business
If you are in business now, or have been in the past, what skill do you consider most important? How did you learn it? Do jot a note below.